tv [untitled] January 25, 2012 6:48am-7:18am PST
there becomes a real ring of truth to them, a consistency that makes it impossible for us, as attorneys, hearing the stories to dismiss them out of hand. the videos are not the first time that misconduct has ever happened. they are just the first time for us. let me use the henry hotel incident as a case study. let's go out and amassed a bunch of videos. which is basically did our job to clients. the residents of the hotel told
us what the police officer said was not what happens. we trusted them. we looked at the henry hotel. we got video from december 23. and lo and behold, every word of what our clients were telling us were true. two four two. the videos are just a small sample of what some would say is clearly a culture or pattern. and i do want to say that even in my short tenure as defense attorney, i agree with stuart. there are so many good officers, but there are cultures that develop within certain units. i will put it right out there. many of the complaints we hear it involve plainclothes units,
and perhaps there is a culture that develops and allows misconduct to happen and continue to happen. so, the public defender's role is unique and natural and i am confident that had we not been doing our jobs with respect to those brought residents of the henry hotel, those would never have surfaced and perhaps the officers would never have had to answer for that conduct. [applause] >> i would like to ask a question and anybody can answer this. you brought up this culture that sends to -- seems to bring it misconduct on. what is it about this culture that makes some cops go bad or road?
are the temptations so great because you are dealing with narcotics when you are under cover? what is it about the culture that breeds these bad things out. -- breeds these bad things out? >> i will answer that. i worked in narcotics for a long time. plainclothes for a long time. i participated in large seizures, one of them involving $1.4 million in cash. and i never to the dime. i am comfortable with the officers i worked with, that they were of the highest caliber. as i said earlier, there are officers who are not of the same character as the officers i worked with, and i think the hard working men and women of the police department would just as soon not have them among them.
to paint the organization with a broad stroke is not fair. in the legal profession, there are a tremendous amount of incredibly hon. attorneys and judges, but every once in awhile, we see an ugly stories there, too. would it be untoward, as they say? i think they need to be, as i said earlier, dismissed from our ranks. >> for police officers who are alleged to abuse their power -- and know you want to comment on what chief suhr was saying. then i have a question for you. >> first, i have probably been involved in more cases than anyone in this area. >> [unintelligible] >> i have been involved in maybe 1000 cases as a consequence of
that, -- i've been involved and maybe 1000 cases. as a consequence of that, i have given a lot of thought to there is no doubt in my mind that the culture exists, not just around the question of do you take money or not? there is a culture and in some departments about how you treat the minority community. i have been representing people, blacks, browns, at such drug -- etc. for over 20 years. i know there is a disparity of the way they are treated by police agencies. not all departments are the same. so, i understand that can be a culture. i also understand this. part of what i have been involved in those beyond just
the annual case, and trying to think about where you individuals are trying to get there. i wrote a book about it. i have looked at the apartments from around the country. i have looked at many consent degrees. i have been involved in one in oakland for almost eight years. i have seen all the policies here in san francisco. i have seen policies in most departments. it is more about how you impose those policies, how do you know what the person is supposed to do. it is a comment i have seen from judges many times. it is a question of trust, but verify.
there are enough mechanisms in place to audit internally -- not an internal audit department itself, but a way to look to see whether or not the integrity in the process that people are involved in. you can look on the spot check basis to determine whether drugs in the department are supposed to be there. you can look to find out whether or not people are being truthful when they say the police have taken the money. i have seen that. and you can develop policies to look to say. look, does this particular officer have a history of arresting people and there is no underlying offense? or does the person have a history with drug cases were small amounts of drugs and have been obtained from people and it looks kind of funny when purses -- when the person is saying "i did not do with -- it"?
of course, they are good law enforcement officers. i've had the pleasure of working with the staff where we have looked at and had to rewrite the policies, all of those policies. i want to tell you, there are very good people. but the people did not insist that they do what the supervisor had to do. this is a common phrase. i will sum up. i first started when i was traveling on a book tour and i ran into officers in communities to were very upset because they had been whistle-blowers. what they were telling me is, look, the officers are taught properly in the academy. once the go to work, the training officer or the supervisor says "forget
everything you've been taught in the academy." "this is how we do it in the streets here? [applause] this is a reality. you have to look at the training, that the trainee is being imposed and the people are following it, and to have to hold them accountable for. if you do not hold people accountable, all we are doing is wishing past a graveyard. accountability is the most important and it starts at the top. it goes all the way down to the supervisors and ultimately you hold police officers accountable. if you do not do that, the culture will never change. culture changes slowly anyway. [applause] >> let me ask your gavotte chiefs -- two chiefs about this
code of silence. we see it in the movies. uygur about it in books. -- we hear about it in books. >> i think there is peer pressure, to be sure. within the police department, we do not get to remain silent when you are asked a question. a regular citizen has are right to not self-incrimination. then the police department, you can say that, and you certainly have that right as a citizen of the united states, and you're immediately sent over to the administration of internal affairs, where you were given an admonition, and you were going to say, now you're going to tell me exactly what happens, and they have to tell you or you're fired. that is the circumstance we're going through right now.
i can tell the officers to tell me what happened, because if they do not, they are fired. so, they are telling us what went on. and it to the bottom of this investigation. with regard to generically if people do not say what ever -- there is pressure, but i think that largely, now in this day and age, with the light shining on us 100% of the time, i would tell you that when issues come forward, the officers would not have happened. >> mr. herley, do you have comments? >> i would absolutely agree with the chief. there are very few times you were brought before your boss and ordered to tell the truth or you're fired, period.
my concern is when your not ordered to come before your boss, and you see something happen, and you cannot do anything. that is my concern, and i'm sure the chief's also. i never thought i would be sitting here agreeing with every word john burris would say. [laughter] this is the first time i have had an opportunity to be with him. however, i do agree with him. it has to be enforced throughout the organization. what we expect up our people. what we want to ensure up our people, particularly the integrity and the values aspect. many of us, not many, but quite
a few departments have of all you statement. ethics, integrity are part of those values. it is not just a document that is on a wall. it is something we have to believe that every level and in force at every level. in preparing for this, i found an absolutely wonderful article, "the truth about the police code of silence revealed." i really recommend that you take a look at that. i'm going to recommend most police chiefs take a look at this. there are profiles. he talks about the code of silence. that is about the fact that there is. how you prevent the code of silence? it is like how do you prevent crime?
or how do you stop crime, let's put it that way. the best way to prevent these kinds of indiscretions, or as you will, from happening, is to ensure each level of your organization is responsible for the people that they supervise. and you inspects, you audits, you ensure, and then it becomes part of the culture. i will tell you one of the best tools i have seen in my career -- two of the best tools. no. 1, tape recorder. two, video camera. i am not talking about watching "cops" on tv.
it is a couple of things. number one, the officer is going to act differently because they know they're being found. number two is i suggest that utilize the person you are talking to there being recorded for film. no. 3 is there is verification of what exactly happened. there are multiple of benefits in that. in the greenroom, we were talking about the cost of outfitting of one car. how much does it cost for a lawsuit? what does it do to the perception of the department. those are the kinds of things we
can do. but we have to put it -- we have to commit as a city, as individuals to the detriment of our own police department, rather than looking askance at it and assuming that every police department and employee in that department -- is not fair. >> mr. hanlon? >> i think one thing to keep side of -- sight of, if we're giving people the power to carry a gun and arrest citizens and put them in jail forever. we talk about how we deal with this situation, to minimize it and say it is just a few officers, the department is generally ok, that there is not a culture here, whether it is a code of silence or a code that
we can do what ever we want, it is not dealing with the problem. [applause] i believe that it has to be dealt with. but it cannot be dealt with by minimizing it and saying there's too much media about this stuff, that it is not fair. it is fair because the police are given this incredible power. more than anybody else. you know, i can deal with a cop in court, but i will not mess with him on the street, because he can tell me or arrest me. there has to be a standard -- he can kill me or arrest me. there has to be a standard. ianne is talking about her clients are basically on the street. this is not a minor problem. [applause] >> we of so many other questions
that need to be answered, but i think we're coming to the end of our time. this is been a fabulous discussion with our experts here, with all the notes from whence they are talking. i want to thank everyone for their words of wisdom and -- and i think it has been a wonderful discussion about this problem. i have a couple of questions that have been submitted, which i will throw open to any panelist. i guess this could be fourfor ms. wu. what is the procedure for the san francisco police department and the d.a. and is a public? >> it is public. there are external and internal policies for bringing forward
materials that would affect the credibility of witnesses i hate -- credibility of witnesses. from the crime lab scandal -- >> situation. situation. i will use the word situation. in particular, and it is all known to the public -- this man had a conviction out of san mateo we had not learned about. we could not cross-examine on that. and that was a problem. it was a problem immediately addressed. so, i talked to a lot of other g-8's offices to find out how -- d.a.'s offices throughout the state to find out how they dealt with this. i find that a lot of offices across the state rely on that
type of relationship. given the situation occurred with the crime lab, we needed to absolutely do more, and what we did is create a policy where they did, and i think it may have been cheap gas than -- chief gaston at the time were they created personnel files where they could go to the court system to learn whether this type of material existed, whether or not information that we should know about individuals who are testifying for us in that trial should be given to the police department. we also have our own internal policy because -- which means if there are allegations of misconduct, we create materials and have an internal policy about how the material is disseminated within our offices
so that we can comply with all our obligations in terms of discovery. our office has had a lot of discussions about the implementation of that policy and a lot about when we should implement policy and when during the course of litigation that information should be provided. we chose to be very expensive on that. we chose to give it prior to preliminary hearings if time allows. i think that is above and beyond what the law requires. those are the decisions that were made. we do have a set policy, a set policy that we also think provides a set process for the people bringing forward material. for example, if you have material we're looking at, we have opportunities to provide
information to us or to come in and discuss with us what the allegations are against them prior to making a determination if there is material. all that is on our website, i believe. and now with the lights going out -- i think they are turning the lights down on us. >> it is like the academy awards. >> i know, i know. >> do we have time for one more question? ok. ok. chief suhr, a ban has been called on the use of master keys at the sro. can you discuss whether this is a viable option or why the officers should use them? >> i am aware of that, but consent is also a lawful search, and i know a lot of these hotels
would just as soon we not be breaking down their doors and paying to fix the doors or the police department can secure the door and then they have to put a person on the door, and that leads to other theft from folks in the hotel. so, i certainly would look at it and consider it, but i think that's if there is lawful consent given and the past key is used or the person's own key is used, it ends up being, as many things are in this day and age, a cost issue. >> i would like to weigh in. can you imagine police officers arriving at the ritz carlton, informing the front desk they would like a key that opens all the hotel rooms, and no, they do not need an escort. they just will be doing what they would like. there would be public outcry. and the only reason that there
is a public outcry about the use of master keys, and we have brought forth stories -- "the new york times" published a story with first hand witnesses from single occupancy hotels. this is someone's home. there is no different constitution for people living in sro's. they say the officers come in and intimidate physically or verbally into handing over the passkey. if this were happening anywhere , but sro's, there would be outcry. [applause] >> and our one last question will be open for anyone who wishes to answer it. do you think it is fair that police who kill citizens are put
on administrative leave while the citizens to do the same thing are immediately arrested and imprisoned it? >> [yelling] >> anyone want to grab that one? [laughter] >> i believe the question is whether or not if a police officer killed someone in the line of duty and they are put on administrative leave? >> that is what i read here. >> so, again, the police officer is subject to all the lost anybody else is subject to. the reason they're put on administrative leave while the investigation continues is to make sure the investigation goes forward and the officer is not outside. i do not think it is looked upon by the officers -- and i know it is not intended by the police department -- as a reward. it is just something done as the investigation goes forward. once the finding is made, then it proceeds. if it is not a criminal trial,
as with the oscar grant shooting, everybody saw the way that went. >> [unintelligible] >> i am sorry? and if it goes another way, then it proceeds down that track. >> any other comments? any closing comments by anyone? i think they have said their due. >> i have one. >> ok. >> these issues are very complex. there are legitimate sides. but i do think that it requires thoughtful analysis of the issues as we try to look at a department, having been looking at a department and trying to offer solutions.
i realize how complex and challenging it is to move the agenda, but if you have good will for the different sides, but we can do it if there is a commitment on the part of the department as well as the public officials. because public officials need to make a commitment to hold the police department accountable. if they do not do that, it does not matter what the lawyers agree upon. at the end of the day, the officers will be held accountable to the public officials and public officials -- if the public officials do not hold them accountable, and nothing positive happens in the long run. [applause] >> i think john is right. one of the important things about this conference is san
francisco is different. i cannot imagine sitting at the table of the chief of police of oakland or sacramento, and the chief of police being here. it does not end the questions. it is a conversation that has to get down to important issues. it has to start and meetings like this are a start to recognize. i think it is a real positive step. [applause] >> and although i would argue many of the things that were said today on the panel -- and i cannot believe i am going to say this -- i completely agree with john burris and stuart hanlon. [applause] >> thank you for giving my closing comments from me. i would like to thank the public defender's office for providing
the public and anybody he wants to come to this forum, hearing from these experts, and they help you take away some good things from this -- and i hope you take away some good things you take away some good things from this panel. >> so many people here. this is the third and final panel for those of you who have stayed. this is going to be an incredible discussion. leading the panel, this is the chief attorney of the public defender's office, matt gonzalez. >> let me talk about how we decided to have a panel as part of this year is just a summit on the death penalty. san francisco is often known for being a large city,